Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Abbott And Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952)

And for the second half of today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature, we have their 1952 comedy Abbott And Costello Meet Captain Kidd.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Dumb-Hounded (1943)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 8 minutes, 1 second)

The Wolf escapes from prison, and Droopy must hunt him down. Droopy’s first cartoon, which shows, as he has a slightly different look than he would have for the remainder of the series. Still, it’s pure fun, watching the Wolf run, only to find Droopy everywhere, no matter what he does to him. Love the gags, and Droopy is always fun to watch!

And Now For The Main Feature…

On the island of Tortuga, tavern waiters Rocky Stonebridge (Bud Abbott) and Oliver “Puddin’ Head” Johnson (Lou Costello) are given a container with a love letter by Lady Jane (Fran Warren) to give to their buddy and tavern singer Bruce Martingale (Bill Shirley). At the tavern, Oliver has to wait on Captain William Kidd (Charles Laughton), who is meeting with his rival Captain Bonney (Hillary Brooke). Captain Bonney is accusing Captain Kidd of stealing jewels from her territory, and is demanding that he split the treasure with her. While waiting on them, Oliver accidentally gets the containers for the treasure map and Lady Jane’s letter mixed up, and ends up with the map. Rocky senses an opportunity to get in on the treasure, although it almost gets them into trouble. However, Captain Kidd is forced to bring them along since they hide the map successfully. Before sailing off to Skull Island, Captain Kidd shanghais a number of men into service on his boat, including Bruce. On the trip, both Captain Kidd and Captain Bonney attempt to get the map from Rocky and Oliver, without success. At one point, Captain Kidd and his crew attack another ship, and, wouldn’t you know it, Lady Jane is on that ship! She is captured and taken along as a prisoner. Once they reach Skull Island, Rocky and Oliver have to help find the treasure, before Captain Kidd double-crosses them and Captain Bonney. Can they escape his clutches and still end up with the treasure?

For Bud and Lou, their contract with Universal allowed them to try doing some independent films here and there, and around 1952, they tried to do two films through their own production companies, in the hopes of being able to do them in color (something Universal Studios hadn’t been willing to pay for). Under Lou’s production company, Exclusive Productions, they made Jack And The Beanstalk, and for Bud’s company, Woodley Productions, they made Abbott And Costello Meet Captain Kidd. They really got lucky for this movie, as Charles Laughton was the rare Oscar-winning actor that actually wanted to work with them in the movies. They were able to get him after he had expressed interest in the project, as he wanted to learn from them (specifically, he had wanted to learn the double-take from Lou). Of course, he was reprising a character he had played (albeit in a serious role) for the 1945 Universal film Captain Kidd, but he still took on the comedic aspects with relish, even wanting to do his own pratfalls!

For me, this movie is a lot of fun, and one of those “I probably don’t watch it as often as I should”-type of movies. Bud and Lou are fun here, that’s certainly not in doubt. And Lou gets to do the one “Handcuff” routine with Charles Laughton, which is hilarious! Plus, we have the scene early on, where Charles Laughton, Hillary Brooke, and Lou all eat a meal that accidentally had a bar of soap mixed into it, and thus they are all blowing bubbles as they speak (admittedly, I think the bubbles are all animated, but who cares?). Then there’s Bud and Lou’s attempts to “dig” up the treasure, and how they keep getting in each other’s way. But I would say that Charles Laughton keeps up with them and almost manages to steal the picture from them, with my favorite moment for him being near the end of the movie, as his character is a bit more loopy after having dealt with all of Lou’s character’s antics. Breaks me up every time! Sure, this movie does veer back into musical territory, with mostly forgettable music, plus the side romance not quite working (and quite frankly, the only purpose it serves is the letter, which Hillary Brooke’s Captain Bonney assumes was written to Lou’s character, which is amusing in and of itself), but those are minor issues. All in all, this is a fun film (and far better than most of the boys’ Universal output at this time), so it’s an easy thing for me to recommend this movie!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 10 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Lost In Alaska (1952)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Abbott And Costello Go To Mars (1953)

Because Of Him (1946) – Charles Laughton – Salome (1953)

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